I joined a trail running group and it dawned on me this weekend that I really should document more of my trail runs and experiences. So here you go! This blog was birthed out of mile four on the trail of the Pink Beds loop in Pisgah National Forest.
A little backstory on my trail running group… I’ve made friends with the locals at our Fleet Feet in Asheville, and they’re a darn good group of friends and runners. They’ve managed to find a way to be innovative with COVID19 shut downs and restrictions, and they just keep pivoting with resilience and ways to keep connected. They announced in September that we were bringing back the Fall Trail Series in limited capacity and with the proper precautions in place. We meet every Sunday morning for a little jaunt in the woods. It’s no drop, so all paces are welcomed and there seems to be a perfect mix of speedy runners for me to try and keep up with, as well as my traditional back of the packers to bring up the rear. I’m never one to hesitate to walk.
Pink Beds: I’ve driven past it a dozen times or more on my way to hikes or the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it just looked like a nice place to picnic. I was delighted when I found out our group run was going to be here this week! The full loop was around 5.4-6 miles (GPS is never 100% on trail running) but Clark had mentioned there was an option to cut through the Barnett Branch Trail about 1.3 miles in, that would cut about 3 miles off the total. Since my hamstring is hit or miss, I decided to take it easy and see how I felt at the fork, then either continue on the full loop, or cut in on Barnett Branch if I was experiencing pain.
The first mile was insanely beautiful and very runnable! I clocked like 10:30 for the mile, which is crazy fast for AVL trails for me. At the fork, we all took a break to let the rest of the pack catch up. I made the decision to tackle the full loop since my leg felt great and I didn’t have child-care issues to hurry home to.
Mile two was also pretty and very runnable, and I played leap frog a bit with Stephen through two and three, another runner whom I’ve recently met through the group. We typically pace pretty well together. Four may have been the most technical (still very mild considering other local trails I’ve run), with plenty of weird roots and the most uphill (also extremely mild for most trails I’ve run here).
Right before mile four, the Barnett Branch trail joined back up with Pink Beds Loop and the remaining mile-or-so was really a lot of fun! There were twists and turns, some really fun boardwalks to speed along, and it really became a lot more runnable like that first mile at the start.
Overall, I really enjoyed this trail. It’s probably a good introductory trail run for people, especially considering many of the local trails are a lot more technical with a lot more elevation change, and probably tons more single track. This was a great confidence booster, and my leg held up for the full loop without any pain. Wins all around! The elevation hovers around 3200 feet, so it’s “up there” but not too crazy.
Finally, the entire run I kept wondering why it’s named the Pink Beds. I wondered if the orange-ish bed of pine needles gave it a pink hue certain times of the year, or perhaps the off-red downed leaves were interpreted as pink…. Romantic Asheville website said: “The Pink Beds Valley was named by the settlers who first cleared the area when the abundant blooms of summer rhododendron and mountain laurel were visible from the surrounding mountainsides. Since the valley has been reforested, it’s more green than pink.” Makes sense… There were tons of rhodies but of course we’re not in rhodie season so it would remain a mystery.